Women and the Alphabet

Women and the Alphabet
A Series of Essays

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Women and the Alphabet by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Published:

1881

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Women and the Alphabet
A Series of Essays

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Book Excerpt

s maxims and _bon-mots_ of eminent men, in respect to women. Niebuhr thought he should not have educated a girl well,--he should have made her know too much. Lessing said, "The woman who thinks is like the man who puts on rouge, ridiculous." Voltaire said, "Ideas are like beards: women and young men have none." And witty Dr. Maginn carries to its extreme the atrocity, "We like to hear a few words of sense from a woman, as we do from a parrot, because they are so unexpected." Yet how can we wonder at these opinions, when the saints have been severer than the sages?--since the pious Fénelon taught that true virgin delicacy was almost as incompatible with learning as with vice; and Dr. Channing complained, in his "Essay on Exclusion and Denunciation," of "women forgetting the tenderness of their sex," and arguing on theology.

Now this impression of feminine inferiority may be right or wrong, but it obviously does a good deal towards explaining the facts it assumes. If contempt does not originally cause failur

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